Pasta-shaped robots with no batteries or arms are escaping mazes

A team of researchers has created a pasta-shaped soft robot with no arms that are capable of navigating through various mazes.

1 minute & 8 seconds read time

Researchers have constructed a new soft robot capable of navigating through mazes without the use of batteries, motors, or computers.

Pasta-shaped robots with no batteries or arms are escaping mazes 01

The new spiral-shaped device is made from a rubber-like material that is impregnated with liquid crystals. When the device is placed on a surface, and that surface is heated to at least 131 Fahrenheit, the areas on the device that are touching the surface begin to heat up and expand, while the areas that aren't touching the surface "remain static". The result of this interaction with the heated up surface causes the device to snap in a twisting motion that moves it up to 3.8 millimeters per second.

Notably, when placed in a maze, the soft robot moves in one direction until it reaches an obstacle. Suppose the device cannot pass the obstacle after several attempts. In that case, it will switch its orientation to the opposite of what it currently was, meaning the soft robot will simply collide with all obstacles in its path until it eventually finds its correct path out of the maze. Furthermore, the researchers were able to demonstrate the soft robot with no intelligent control was able to navigate over sand, pebbles, climb slopes, and even push small aluminum cylinders.

"This guy's not like a robot, but his performance is like a robot. We show that with only a simple twist you can already achieve such interesting things. And if you make this guy more complex, like a more complex 3D structure, I believe it can encourage more advanced capabilities," said the device creator Jie Yin from North Carolina State University.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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